Monday, June 28, 2010

Some day, Ghana's Legendary Score > USA by 2-1 will be remembered as the QUINTESSENCE of David vs Goliath, that Economic Might is not Might Everywhere

And so I started my Facebook status, which attracted quite some comments, including one about FORBES.

Some of you may not know, but FORBES--a right-wing publication--has come out very recently to describe Ghana's economy as the "ninth worst" economy in Africa. There's a background to this, which is summed up by one of Ghana's foremost economists Dr.Nii Moi Thompson, who writes:

For years, the US media and successive US governments have been among the loudest cheerleaders for Ghana’s socio-economic accomplishments, but all that seemed to have changed recently when the Ghanaian government dared challenge the decision by Texas-based Kosmos to sell its shares in Ghana’s Jubilee oil fields to fellow American company Exxon without the fiduciary consent of the Ghanaian government, the custodian of the nation’s natural resources. Kosmos’ intended sale was announced on October 12, 2009, a day after China’s National Offshore Oil Company’s interest in Jubilee was made public. Thus, overnight, Ghana found itself in the middle of the new scramble for Africa

Now we don't need any Einsteins in the house to know what's going on. That China's interested in African oil is no news, but what is is the fact that US oil companies want to do us in over our oil. I don't know any country which will quietly sit down and accept that no less than a multinational like Exxon sell its stake in a country's oil to its partner American company. I wouldn't know whether it's a breach of contract in the legal sense, but it doesn't smell right.

Neither does it smell right that FORBES decides to denigrate Ghana--on the basis of no less than statistics from...the IMF!

So, Ghana does not deny being a developing country--but neither is it poor, when endowed by so many natural resources! Our democracy has been hailed worldwide for having been sustained since 1992. It is far from perfect, but time and again, the Western press claims we are "a model" for the continent.

This volte-face is too serious to be funny.

I am glad to see that for once, the government has been quick to react to the story:

The Finance And Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, has maintained that the current growth being recorded is far higher than what pertains in most sub-Saharan African countries.

In a robust defence of the economic management and performance of the country, Dr. Duffuor rejected a recent publication in a United States publication, Forbes Magazine, that Ghana’s economy was the ninth worst economy in the world, describing the rating as a gross misrepresentation.

He stressed that although the country was faced with serious economic challenges, the growth in the real value of total goods and services produced in the country, also known Gross Domestic Product (GDP), for 2009 far exceeded the average growth rate for the region. The June 10, 2010 edition of the magazine gave Ghana the ranking under the headline, “Ghana Ranked 9th Worst Economy in the World”.

Now, today, I read a Financial Times piece, entitled, "Oilfield dispute fires up Ghana-US match", which offers a fair assessment of the genesis of the dispute:

Kosmos, which is backed by US private equity groups Blackstone and Warburg Pincus, agreed to sell its 23.5 per cent stake in the Jubilee field to ExxonMobil last year. But the Ghana government has declined to approve the $4bn deal, partly because it wants to control who participates in a venture critical to the country’s fortunes.

Ghanaian authorities allege that Kosmos was in breach of regulations when it shared sensitive data with potential bidders without first informing the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).

Another bone of contention has been the link between Kosmos and EO, a small company founded by two allies of former president John Kufuor, whose equity in the oilfield is financed by the Texan company.

Sources close to Kosmos claim factions within the Ghana government are using these issues to thwart the deal because they want to buy the stake at below-market value.

The Jubilee field, which may hold at least 1.2bn barrels of oil, has also attracted interest from Chinese, Korean, French, Irish and British companies.

But here's where it gets juicy, and right on point:

“Ghana is where Washington needs to put a backstop on China’s invasion of Africa,” says an Accra-based businessman sympathetic to US ambitions.

I would love to say I am fearful of what this oil will do to Ghana, but it is not as if we have not been here before ( and neither is it that we will not overcome!).

When our first President Dr.Kwame Nkrumah started getting aid from the "East" after Ghana's independence from the British in 1957, Eisenhower and subsequent presidents--with the exception of J F Kennedy--labelled Nkrumah as a communist. He was summarily overthrown (with Ghanaian help) in 1966 in what we now know was a CIA-inspired coup.

Never mind that Ghana has been a democracy since 1992, for the acolytes of the Bush

administration, it's all about the bottom line. I am over-joyed to read that Ghanaians are reacting to Forbes' mendacity. One such article can be found here:

The author writes:

Our country is not in denial neither are we complacent on the issues confronting us as a nation. However, Forbes reliance on just IMF statistics to portray Ghana’s economy as a lost cause have provided ammunition to our detractors and caused a lot of “collateral economic damage to the economy”.

None of us would have challenged the findings of Forbes if its research had been comprehensive, holistic and balanced.

For example, a World Bank (2008) report states, “as a small open economy, Ghana remains vulnerable to external shocks over which it has little control: commodity prices, climatic conditions, regional tensions, and fluctuations in global, international trade and investment flows.”

In the final analysis, to have beaten the United States with a scoreline redux of 2006 could be construed as possibly the greatest redemption Ghana could ever get!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ghana vs Germany Tonight Makes for a Trepidatious Evening

So the title is this side of melodramatic (am talking both about the "Daily Graphic" headline and yours truly), but there is a degree of seriousness.

Kevin-Prince Boateng is not the only "Star" Ghanaians are counting on to deliver "for Africa", but he is naturally in the spotlight as his brother JEROME actually plays for GERMANY!

It has all the trappings of an unprecedented finger-biting drama that's sure to send many people home earlier than usual.

Am wondering whether I can make it.

Anyone up for a supersonic plane to bypass this darned traffic?

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Being... a West African @ FIFA 2010 World Cup

For what was touted to be a quintessentially "African world cup", I believe the reputation has not preceded it in any way!

Let me just say I had a problem which revolved round the specious argument that it being on African soil was tantamount to an "African win". To have heard so much of it in the Western press and African one was just so absurd it was not funny.

Still, it's good to have a sense of humour about these things, and prepare oneself for any eventuality.

I have to say that I was prepared to see NIGERIA crash out...but not as early as it did. Buoyed by its successful first goal against GREECE, I thought the Super Eagles would manage to maintain their goal. Sadly, they were not, dashing all hopes for a greater presence of West African teams into the second round.

I know I'm being presumptuous again--imagining that GHANA's Black Stars would have beaten AUSTRALIA and gone through Saturday, but sadly...tomorrow will tell. GHANA ought not to be complacent. With SERBIA having beaten GERMANY 1-0, the tables can turn dramatically.

Which means that the amateur and armchair-spectator-analyst in me would like to presage a narrative based on a formulation that sees at least TWO West African countries (viz: Ivory Coast and Ghana) go through. Out of the African teams (South Africa; Cameroon; Ivory Coast; Ghana; Nigeria; Algeria), half are in West Africa, which is probably not saying much.

If you consider the fact that in FIFA 2006 world cup, there were no less than three West African countries out of the four from West Africa--viz:Ivory Coast; Ghana; Togo--with Angola being the "outsider", it's clear that West Africa matters in world football.

Contrast that to FIFA 2002 World Cup, and you'll notice thatNigeria and Senegal were present. At FIFA 1998 World Cup, only Nigeria was present.

You must get the picture by now: West Africa is a force to deal with, and will continue to be.

Despite the relative inclemency of the weather (the South African winter I hear is biting hard my fellow countrymen who are there to support Ghana!) that is inversely proportional to the typical "African" weather, we can safely say that this has, in retrospect, not really been that much of an "African" world cup.

You may forgive me for wanting to wrap this entry up and genuflect between now and tomorrow for Ghana to have no less than an emphatic win over Australia!

Just in case you missed my piece on "Accra Daily Photo" summarizing the game in June 2006 in Germany, you can catch it here:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Being... a Ghanaian Tax-payer

The difference between being a Ghanaian taxpayer and an average one is predicated on a simple formula: more tax means more "chop-chop" by the government, where the gastronomical figure of speech means the government is "eating" the money or being corrupt.

Bottom line, though, is that we do see progress: a toll booth on our major motorway, with promises of more to raise revenue for the State. We are also seeing better roads, including the working and eventual finishing of the infamous Spintex Road.

So why are people crying about taxes?

It's really to do with the utility hikes. The government--and this was true with the previous right-wing, property-owning administration of the NPP--has a penchant for increasing the price of utilities in one go, instead of doing it incrementally. This can naturally have an adverse effect on the pocket of consumers. The last price hike was in November 2007, when the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission(PURC) raised rates by some 40%.

Today, the average rate is 42%--still quite high for the average consumer. But I posit that such a hike ought not to be mutually exclusive from the payment of taxes.

Let's face it: no-one likes to pay tax, but at the end of the day, the State must needs raise revenue somehow, plus it is also a way of empowering the citizen to hold his or her leader more accountable. When there is a price hike--whether justified or not--each citizen's voice is amplified by virtue of being compelled to pay more.

Last year, I heard a documentary on the BBC worldservice, which explained that Sweden is the only country where citizens don't mind paying high taxes, because the government has the habit of providing adequately, and Swedes also expect more than mediocre provision.

I believe some day, Ghanaians might just get to that point. But before that, our tax authorities must widen the tax net--through institutions like Ghana's rather-wealthy Social Security National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) -- to cover much of the informal sector, and the super-rich who seem to pay the same taxes that the middle class, and working class pay!

Friday, June 04, 2010

When the BBC Worldservice Called from London...When in Accra

Let me get this straight. For the past few days, the BBC Africa Service has been travelling through the sub-region in a bus to get a feel of the so-called football fever in the run-up to the FIFA 2010 world cup in South Africa.

The "Africa Have Your Say" programme is live on air in Africa every Tuesday to Thursday. The "Africa Have Your Say" bus started off in Cote d'Ivoire, landed at the Western region of Ghana's capital--Takoradi--on Tuesday, Cape Coast on Wednesday, and landed in Accra on Thursday. They even had a live session of the programme yesterday looking at electricity provision

It is to that end that one Ishta Kutesa Nandi contacted me asking:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ishta Kutesa
Date: 2010/6/3
Subject: Message via your Google Profile: Electricity in Ghana

Hello Emmanuel,

My name is Ishta and I'm contacting you from the BBC World Service in London. I've read quite a few of your blog posts and I find your views on utility provision in Ghana quite interesting. I'd love to talk to you about possibly taking part in a live debate we're holding this afternoon. Please reply with a phone number I can contact you on so that we can discuss this further.

Kind regards,

So, after a response and exchange of emails, I got a call shortly after. We talked for some 15 minutes, in which she asked a whole host of questions and asked for some solutions that I see for the way forward:

1. the government should continue to invest in the old electricity sytstem, which has been under-invested for many years

2. the government should establish more sub-stations to cater for a rapidly-growing population

3. ghanaians should have at their disposal a FREE hotline--not one where you pay landline rates on a mobile!

4. we should be getting streetlights as every blessed customer pays for them

5. if Ghana can provide our neigbouring countries (Cote d'ivoire and Togo) with electricity, we ought to have regular provision HERE in Ghana!

Ishta was supposed to call back and help me make inputs into the live session, but I never got that call. I know a fellow blogger--Golda--who was there at the live session, but didn't hear her name on air.

Whatever the case, a few ghanablogging members got recognised--and for that I am happy. To be recognised by no less than the BBC on the issues that concern us most--electricity; streetlights; utility provision, etc--is the biggest boost anyone can get.

Never mind writing about our own lives...

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mid-Wk Madness: Am Still Waiting for My Streetlights!

Now, that the Public Utility Regulatory Authority announced 31 May that electricity has gone up by 89%, might we not finally sit up to protest for our streetlights?

A careful scrutiny of our electricity bill reveals that each and every blessed consumer pays an amount towards fire-fighting and street-lighting.

Bottom line: where are our streetlights?

This post is inspired by's one here:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Footer Fancies

eXTReMe Tracker Who Links Here
Brochure Design - Small Business Bible
Brochure Design


BlogCatalog / StumbleUpon

My Photo Gallery

BlogCatalog Stuff!